FROM THE PASTOR’S CORNER:
“Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope” – 1 Peter 3:15-18
We have been isolated now for more than two months, desperate for the normal connections and relationships we used to have. We were given some hope when the bishops of Illinois released a plan for the “Phased Re-opening of Our Churches In the Decline and Aftermath of COVID-19 Pandemic.” As our first priority is SAFETY, last Monday I received an email from the Bishop with a 46 page attachment. It contained very detailed step-by-step instructions listing the security precautions and conditions for us to re-open – even in a very limited sense (10 people or less). Part of this includes a completed “Parish Re-Opening Plan” to be submitted and approved by the Diocese of Joliet. The parish Plan must give details about the roles and conditions that are required to meet the safety considerations, especially before, during and after sanitation procedures. Social distancing, hand sanitizers and face masks will be the norm for some time. Only when the parish Plan is approved will we be able to allow services with ten or fewer people for Baptism, Sacrament of Reconciliation, Weddings, Funerals and private church visits and adoration.
As far as the public celebration of Mass is concerned, we were instructed that “those parishes live-streaming or producing videos of Masses are encouraged to continue doing so for the indefinite future.” As this includes our parish, we will continue to make our live-streamed Masses available. This is the most hopeful news. The rest is very discouraging. After meetings trying to figure out our next steps, I have felt that we were driving a car without a map in a very dense fog. Sometimes we didn’t even know if we were still on the road. The positive things that we are doing now give me hope, and we will certainly continue taking those steps. But we have a very long road ahead of us. Let us continue to pray for each other.
A few other things. Today we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord. Normally this feast is celebrated on the 40th day of Easter, which would have been last Thursday. Twenty-one years ago, our Bishops received permission to transfer the observance of the feast to the nearest Sunday. This had already been the practice in the western states of our country. The Bishops of the state of Illinois decided to make the transfer, which took effect in May 2000. So today we celebrate the feast of the Ascension of the Lord and next Sunday will be the feast of Pentecost, bringing our 50-day Easter celebration to a close.
This is also Memorial Day weekend! No doubt this will be a Memorial Day that we will remember. Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and was initiated to honor the soldiers for the Union and Confederate armies who died during the American Civil War. Celebrations honoring Civil War heroes started the year after the war ended, but the establishment of a public holiday was meant to unify the celebration as a national day of remembrance instead of a holiday celebrated separately by the Union and Confederate states. By the late 19th century, the holiday became known as Memorial Day and was expanded to include the deceased veterans of all the wars fought by American forces. In 1971, Memorial Day became a federal holiday and was given the floating date of the last Monday in May. Besides giving us the opportunity to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, this holiday also gives us the opportunity to pray for the dedicated men and women who maintain and preserve peace and freedom for us. It is an important day for us to remember. Please note that we print the “Military Prayer List” elsewhere in our bulletin each week. Mass will be live-streamed from the church on our Facebook page at 9:00am on Monday morning. Please join us.
Last Sunday we began our parish’s year long Centennial Anniversary celebration. The ground breaking for our original church (now Chapel) took place 100 years ago this Friday, May 29th. As I said in last Sunday’s Centennial Proclamation, we stand on the shoulders of the giants who have gone before us and have been faithful from our beginnings. And that is something worth celebrating!
There are many other things still happening in our parish. These are publicized through Flocknote notices and messages on our parish Facebook page and web site. Even though the church buildings are still closed, the church people are alive and well.
As always, may God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy